TechCrunch: COVID-19 could have its own PATRIOT Act, but we need privacy guarantees

With COVID-19 infections climbing in the U.S., officials are desperate for ways to track and control the spread, especially with limited testing available.

Google and Apple announced a joint effort last Friday to create a voluntary anonymous contact tracing network enabled by Android and iOS that would monitor the spread of infections by keeping track of people who are infected and those with whom they come into contact. People would download mobile apps from public health officials that would notify them if they had come into close proximity with infected people who also are using the network. The system would use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) transmissions, rather than GPS, so the location would not be tracked, and the tracking data would be stored on the phone and not in a centralized database — all of which will help maintain the privacy of participants.